Category Archives: Tuesday Snippet

This post isn’t a post…

Well, technically it’s a ROW80 check-in disguised as a post, but since most of my posts fall into that category that’s nothing new either.  It’s also a writing sample…  See?  I HAVE been writing.

Just the sky

Just the sky

First the check-in:

I’m having a very hard time concentrating on Release lately.  I find it’s usually best for me to print out pages and work on them away from the computer.  Otherwise, I’ll find anything and everything to distract me, and…  well suffice it to say I have enough things on my “to-do lists” that the possible distractions from that one WiP are virtually limitless.

In my defense, I’ve also been spending large amounts of time enjoying good books to add to my Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge.  Right now I’m over half-way through Yseult by Ruth Nestvold.  I’d started it a while back and had to reread everything because of a problem with my Kindle for PC app losing all its setting and miss-syncing my books.  At least I didn’t lose any of the books themselves.

Has anyone else experienced something like this?  I’m not sure if it’s something I did or something with the software, so I’m certainly curious.

And final check-in point…  my social media time has been sufficient.  Usually it has been more than sufficient, to the point of interfering with my writing.  It’s all good though.  I really love the blogs I’ve visited.  Indeed, my RSS feed reader is getting seriously backed up again, and trimming things is almost as painful as throwing away books.

And so now, here’s a sample of the writing I have been doing, a bit a backstory work on a secondary character in Swan Song.  It’s pretty much raw 750word.com text.  Just me… trying to deepen my perspective on the world I’m writing:

A new caravan appeared outside the fortress walls just before the sun had reached its peak. Rumor said that these men of the Great House Jur Dai Mar had ridden for several weeks to arrive today. Not that one would have believed that given smooth glow of the men’s cheeks as they lead their dancing animals through the fortress gates and into the center by the fountain.

 To Ytramli they looked fresher than many of the riders that left from the fortress itself. And they certainly showed none of the dust and grit that any other such party had shown. Instead, their gleaming bodies and white clothes were scented with spices and floral waters that he could smell even from his perch on the roof of his mother’s room several rooftops away from the courtyard itself. Their mounts, shistrii all, were frilled out, their serpentine necks like a multitude of little jewels against their feathered bodies as the creatures twisted their heads around to receive small bites of jerky and seasoned meats from their handlers. And unlike most of the caravans Ytramli had watched come into the fortress walls these men were men, not a woman, huerta or no, within their party.

 There wasn’t even a Singer or representative of the Temple.

 To add to this, none of the men were concerned about the fact that their skin was bared to the nooning sun. Indeed, they’d made every effort to present their bronzed and ebon bodies to the fullest view of those watching from their windows.

 And especially the Queen and her daughters as they stood in the balcony just over the courtyard fountain.

 For a moment Ytramli found his attention drawn away from watching the newcomers to look over at the small group around the Queen Mother. The womans’s four older daughters stood near the woman, creating an arc of shades with their clothing and colors. The youngest daughter stood well back, her body covered by black lace robes against prying eyes. Two huerta and one Singer flanked the child and the Singer was having a difficult time ensuring that the girl’s robes stayed their place as the girl tried to see in better detail what all the fuss was about.

 He knew about the girl, of course. His mother had been recently returned to him after years where she’d stolen away the child. The Lost Queen some called the girl, claiming that the child was not Mother Araniia’s child but the child of the woman’s mother.

 That didn’t matter so much to him. None of it mattered much to him. He just felt sorry for the child. As bright and curious, even in the near death sickly pallor she’d come back to the fortress in, the girl was already being stifled and quieted to take up the more respectable role of an acolyte for the Temple. The girl deserved better, he thought, than to be shunted off to the priesthood.

 “Ytramli!”

 The call drifted up to him from his mother’s room below, reminding him that he should have been helping her prepare a room for the leader of the newcomers to stay in.

 “Ytramli!” the woman’s voice held a deeper urgency this time that said she knew he was on the roof. She hadn’t exactly told him he couldn’t go there, but she’d not exactly wasted words on her worries for his safety or her concerns that he drop something on a passerby.

 As if he were really that careless! He’d not had the heart however to tell her how foolish he considered her attitude. He’d been without her for so long—he’d been a child himself when she’d left the Great Lands to save the young princess from being taken for the Temple. A mission the Queen herself had required of the woman it seemed… He had no reason to doubt that given the courtesy he’d been given by the Queen during the over four years he’d been left without the woman who’d given him life. Nearly five years! Nearly the whole life of that young princess…

 As he crawled along the roof tiles carefully to the gutter pipe that he used for his slide down when he needed to quickly escape the roof and dared not climb back up to the princesses’ waiting chambers, he considered the young girl again.

 Why, he didn’t know, save that he had never been able to not think about her. He’d seen her the day his mother had left him in the care of the Queen’s courtiers and maids, still squalling and red from her birth, eyes pinched, thrashing against her nurse’s breast.

 Ytramli had fallen in love with her then despite his seven years of age having made him deplore the site of most any girl he saw otherwise, even the lovely princess L’Triia that he’d found himself watching more and more of late, even thinking of the eldest princess’s black hair and dark eyes… the way she laughed as she put on her gear for her lessons with the Arms Mistress… The way she would toss her hair so that it would dance past his fingertips and he would reach out to feel it flutter across his skin…

 Not realizing he’d done so, he found he’d extended a hand out from gripping the gutter to waft in the breeze and in doing so had over balanced himself enough that he lost the grip he’d held on the gutter pipe and fell, awkwardly, upside down against the clay pipe and the stone wall next to his, hitting the back of his skull as he did. The shock made him nearly lose the grip he’d barely maintained with his legs, and he slid roughly the last few feet of pipe to land on his head on the gravelly path outside his mother’s window.

 “Ytramli!”

 This time his mother’s voice came from above him. He opened his eyes and tried looking up from where he laid crumpled on the promenade, but his head refused to allow him to do much more than glimpse the woman’s slipped feet before closing again. He tried answering her instead then, but the words were only a moan. Then the darkness of his closed eyes grew darker and darker…

 He woke up later laying in his own bed. He could smell the tanned furs just enough over the more acrid odor of a medicinal tincture that was soaked into the cloth upon his forehead. That felt cold and damp and uncomfortable, and worse, didn’t seem to be at all near the too most painful spots on his head, those spots he now remembered as having banged his head against the outside wall.

 He could feel the brushed linens of his bedding, warn enough that he could also now feel the straw pad of his mattress peeking through from underneath.

 L’Triia’s bed didn’t have any straw in it. That he remembered well enough. Supposedly none of the princesses save the youngest, save little Atyr, had such lowly things as straw or even linen for their beds. L’Triia’s sbed had been made of feathers and pads of finely tanned leather and silk. And though he hadn’t bothered to check her comment that Araniia cared for all her daughters equally, Ytramli could not doubt that the other girls lived in the same luxury.

 Even little Atyriia had such available to her… He’d actually seen the girl’s room and had stolen a night or two of sleep in the empty chamber when he though he would not get caught. The Temple Singer had refused to allow the young acolyte the luxuries of a royal bedroom, or even royal meals… Or even royal clothing. The closest concession the young child had to her birthrights was her lace covering. Her black robes that she wore outside the wall of the fortress were far less delicate.

 He wondered once more how the child could even see where she was going in such things.

 The rings on the curtained rod that separated his room from his mother’s shifted and he felt the closeness of his mother’s presence as she came over by his bedside. The woman’s larger body had trouble shifting in the small confines of his room, closet that it actually had been, but it wasn’t that she was extra large this time, but more that he could also sense the presence of another woman with her.

 This time, he didn’t try to open his eyes. Better, he’d learned, to pretend to be unaware than to show himself too soon. There would be enough chances for his to try to look later. And given the wizened faces and scowling expressions of most of the Healers in the fortress, kindhearted as they might be most of the time, he preferred to keep his mental eyes on the vision of the two lovely princesses that he’d been thinking of.

 “Are you quite sure, Mother?” his own mother’s voice quavered in the darkness that he was holding. Her voice sounded extra taut, as if she were fighting tears.

 Ytramli almost opened his eyes to see if he might learn who was holding the lines of fear on his mother’s heart so harshly, but before he could do much more than twitch, the other person spoke, and he knew the Queens’s voice.

 “He’s well beyond the age of most males for training, Shenta. I held my faith to your plea that he not be sent off when you were still caring for my heiress, but now that you’ve returned Atyriia to our lands before she was grown enough to resist Masorii’s call, you have betrayed my faith in you. And your son has still lain about in sloth and play, indolent as a newborn… I’ve been patient, I’ve given you time to reacquaint yourselves, and now I demand that he leave before he harms my daughters with his reckless ways. Triia especially is getting far too close to her faiis for him to be around her as much as he is. If you do not send him with the Jur Dai, then I will.”

 There was a moment of awkward silence as he processed what he’d heard and his mother clearly did the same. Then his mother spoke in a voice so soft and tremulous that he wasn’t even sure it was hers. “Surely not the Jur Dai, Mother. Could we not send him to another house? Perhaps one of the ones in the cross lands? I’ve heard they are excellent.”

 The Queen’s breath exploded from her in that way he’d come to know so well when she wasn’t trying to even hide her disgust. Araniia was, he’d found, an unerringly fair and patient woman, but he knew well enough that the Queen’s patience was nearing its end. “The Jur Dai are the best house in all the lands and you wish for me to violate my contract with them as our trainers for your halfbreed son? You? My own slave asks me this? Surely I give you too much leeway because you were my nurse once, woman. What reason could you possibly have for refusing the Jur Dai that could be worth my making such a request to another house?”

 This time Ytramli did open his eyes. Just a crack, but clearly enough that his mother noticed. Her normally pale skin turned bright pink then paled. She shook her head and looked plaintively up to the queen. “Mother, I know I ask you a great burden, but please, any house save the Jur Dai. There are things that…” The woman’s hands wrung into her skirts until she winced and had to shake herself loose from the cloth. She swallowed and she blinked, a tear coming down her cheek.

 Ytramli wondered what could be so very terrible about the Training House at Jur Dai Mar that it drove such expressions of terror from his mother. Nearly everyone else spoke as the Queen did about the place, and given what he’d seen of the men from there at their earlier arrival, he was even more curious.

 And even more, he knew he wanted to be like one of them rather than the halfbreed scalawag son of the Queen’s nurse. He liked the way the whispers of those in the windows had stopped dead as the caravan had come through the gate, how words had been cut short with breaths abated so suddenly that he’d almost heard the collective gasp of all the fortresses women.

 Oh, if he’d been among those men, L’Triia wouldn’t have giggled at him and then scurried off as if he were no more than a plaything to leave behind when she was tired.

That’s it for tonight.  I wasn’t originally thinking of posting anything, but…  Well, I think it’s good for me to get it done.

 

 

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In Another Mindset

This is the last official day of ROWnd 2 of the ROW80 challenge.  Many people are already “done” and were so by Sunday.  I’m still back in the first week it seems.

Mmm!  New Skete Cheesecakes!

Cheesecake…the “other” yellow cake

It doesn’t help that today my husband and I celebrate our 10 wedding anniversary.  Events that mark life changing experiences, whether for good or ill, have a tendency to occupy the mind.

It also doesn’t help that I’ve allowed myself the emotional luxury of doing two Novel Writing challenges, thus almost forcing my mind into fictional worlds where blogging and check-ins and comments are alien concepts (at least in my story worlds they are).

And so here we are, and I ‘m not ready.  I haven’t been ready for weeks.

And yet, the world, the ROWnd, kept moving…

Good-bye.

…for a time.

Departure and Return

Departure and Return

Addendum

And since I did not do the Tuesday Snippet (again…I am really sorry, the mind truly has been in strange places), here it is, for those interested:

Alanii was at the gate, watching as they landed. Quick as she could, she released herself from her harness and went to the door.

‘Listii rose behind her. “Let me help you with the–“

She glared at him and noted with some small satisfaction that he stepped back. “I think you’ve helped enough, Captain.”

He gave a hurt but accepting nod and, after opening the door, stepped away so she could pass by unhindered or touched.

Alanii came over, waving the dust cloud away from his face. “Nassil?” He coughed, then reached a hand over to help her down.

She hesitated a moment before grabbing it, remembering once again why she’d avoided Acaria for so long. Behind her she felt ‘Listii’s dark gaze drilling into the base of her skull.

It decided her.

Resolutely, she enhanced her shielding and reached down to take the Andar’s firm grip, steeling herself for the draw he held over her.

Instead, she met solid ground without the tingling fire, without the shadowy mind sense of him—it was as if he wasn’t there psychically at all. A quick scan, as she dared not lower her shields too far in case this was a fluke, revealed little more than the presence of an untalented person next to her.

But the man next to her who was saying brief greetings and farewells to his captain had never been untalented.

Stunned, she allowed herself to be drawn toward the gate without resistance. And only after the car had lifted off and both Alanii and she were coughing out lungs full of dust was she able to turn to him and demand to know what was going on.

No natural shielding could imitate that kind of effect. Even Val and ‘Listii with their intensely secret skill had always shown up as potential witches.

It was as if Alanii wasn’t there at all.

He smiled wanly, shaking his curls to get rid of the film of dust they’d gathered. “Simple, Atyriia.”

She backed up and, after watching him dust himself off, decided to follow suit. “Simple for you, perhaps, but let’s pretend for a moment that I’m a complete idiot. Why are you suddenly as invisible as a rock on the planes?”

Alanii’s brows rose. “Hopefully you see more of me than that, nassil. Come up to my study. We can share a drink, and I’ll explain it to you.”

She noticed he didn’t offer his hand to her again as he motioned for her to come with him.

 A short snippet this time…

And one last wedding picture…  of me and my matron of honor, Shan.

Miah, Shan and I

All Smiles!

  • All photos credit of Paulsen Photography

Declaration and a Tuesday Snippet (on Tuesday even!)

English: penulis = writer

English: penulis = writer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many of you have likely heard of Jeff Goins and his book You Are a Writer.

If you haven’t, he’s a stand up guy who Tweets about writing, blogs about writing and generally encourages other people who love writing.   And he has something going on over at his website called the 15 Habits of Great Writers (we’ll leave the debate as to whether Plato or Aristotle or even Homer considered themselves great writers to the experts).

Today was Day 1, and the mission was toDeclareas in “Declare yourself as a writer”.

Well, here’s mine: I am a writer and I love chocolate.

Hmm, that chocolate part just snuck out there.  Oh, well…  😉

But seriously, I am a writer.  Those of you who have read my blog know that I have written a fair amount and many of you have said you like what you see.  So the question of course then becomes…  Why am I not submitting this stuff to a real publisher?  Or why am I not taking charge and self-publishing?

Jeff hit it in one when he said (as if he was reading my mind along with so many others out there):

Unless…

Unless, of course, you are like most of us and you’re afraid. You’re hesitant — for some reason or another. Maybe someone told you you weren’t good enough or that you didn’t have what it takes. Maybe you’ve told yourself those things.

No, this isn’t new news.  Not really.  But I think the reason that it resonates so well and so true is that we often lose focus of how much we can do (and do well) for doing all the things we think we should do.  I know I have.  And I know that many people I’ve met have, telling me how they had to wait until the kids were grown up or they graduated college  or bought a house or….  well, basically any number of things that some societal dictate or overcautious maxim preacher drilled into their minds as stuff that MUST BE DONE before one could “let themselves” explore their passions and talents.

So, yes, I am a writer.  I am also an artist (I have posted some of my drawings here before).  And I am also a photographer.  Amateur all three…  however, that is simply a matter of financing.

What are you?  What do you want to be?  What WILL you be?

And now for the

Tuesday Snippet

When we last left Acaria, we had Atyr volunteering herself on ‘Listii as his passenger  for his flight back to the capitol despite the fact that neither of them have been able to speak about the disconnect that had broken into their lovemaking last night.  Does ‘Listii want to bring her back to husband?  And what of Val?  Does Alanii know what sort of arrangement the brothers have with his wife?

Atyr arrived at his car just seconds after he did. He’d managed to gather his own papers as well as some from ‘Mara for the Council.

A call to the Complex had settled another concern.

She smiled as he helped her up the steep first step. “Thank you.” With a brief look around, she accepted the seat he offered her. He watched as she fumbled with the harness a moment. Then she dropped the straps in disgust. “Could I be any more inept! What am I doing wrong, ‘Listii? I didn’t have trouble like this in ‘Mara’s car.”

He took the controller’s seat next to her own and smiled. “Military and civilian models of these older cars were designed differently. Here. Watch how I do it.”

It only took one example for her to fix the tangle she’d made and strap herself in. He was glad. There were some things that even a call to his main base couldn’t stop. Touching her again so soon….

For the first few minutes they traveled in silence. She spent the time watching the departing Home out the window with a small, appreciative smile. He could understand the sentiment having starred in awe more times than he could remember at the wild beauty of his brother’s land.

When the island was out of view behind the clouds, she sighed. “I know I’m being intrusive, ‘Listii, but I need to talk with you—about something that happened last night…and this morning too. I was some straight answers.”

He frowned, checked his controls and glared at some bird splatter on the window. He’d just managed to quell last night’s memory under another notch of control, and she wanted to talk about it? And straight answers…. Who did she think she was dealing with? He’d never misled her before this. Why would she even think such a thing of him now? “Some straight answers? About what? Just because I’d rather not risk getting you pregnant, you–“

What?” She whirled from where she’d been staring at the clouds to meet his gaze. Her expression was one of disbelief and confusion. “What are you talking about?”

He blinked, realizing he’d spoken too soon. He adjusted a dial a touch then shrugged. “You said you wanted to talk about last night. I just assumed you meant–“

“Don’t.” She sighed and leaned back in her seat. “I admit. I was curious about that, but that was your business, not mine. And, if that’s why, well, I understand. Who knows how things would happen since Val and I are called and you are so similar to him.”

He nodded. “My thoughts exactly. We know ‘Lir is Val’s son for certain now, Atyr. He’d understand, but Riia wouldn’t have.”

“She may have. But no matter, I’m not ready to risk being pregnant again either.”

“So what did you want to know?” He felt more relaxed than before with that easy acceptance of his feelings. More confused as well. He glanced at her curiously.

She wasn’t smiling. “Last night Val sent to me, ‘Listii.” She paused and started picking at a hangnail. “And the way you held me back after we stopped tearing your bed apart makes me wonder if you are as talented. Alanii says you are.”

He looked away to the window and his controls. Val’d sent to her…. Damn him. And how in Hell did Alanii figure it out? “It’s nothing, Atyr. We’re just sensitives.” Goddess forgive him for the lie. He realized he had no hope that Atyr would forgive him. It was clear she already felt as betrayed as his wife had before she died.

“That’s not what your brother’s priest thinks. And I have to agree with him, considering. No small talent can be hidden the way you and your brother have hidden yours. Nor could someone with a small talent block out a trained priest after three weeks of guastu the way your brother nearly threw that poor fi-Harnii across the room with his shielding. What I want to know is how long you’ve known about your talents.”

He pursed his lips together, uncertain for a moment. She knew the truth already, at least the truth that could hurt him or his kin. What she wanted to know…. It could only hurt her now. “We always have. At least we’ve known since Father told us as children.”

She was silent for several moments, long enough to make him look at her. She’d started sucking on the finger she’d been worrying earlier. Her eyes were moist with tears that hadn’t escaped yet. She noticed his gaze. The first tear fell.

“Why, ‘Listii? He told me how much he wanted to share mindtouch with me, how much he wanted to touch my mind the way I could his. He told me how much he regretted that he couldn’t! He lied to me! He lied to me, ‘Listii. Why?”

She wasn’t really listening for an answer. He knew that. There was no way she’d even hear him through her wails unless he yelled at her. That wouldn’t help anything. He left her to her tears a moment, not sure of what to say anyway.

Finally she began to calm. He waited a bit longer then spoke.

“He didn’t lie to you, Atyr.”

“He said he couldn’t do it!” The tears started again.

Clearly he hadn’t waited long enough. He shook his head. “He couldn’t.”

“Bullcrap! He has ability enough to do so without even thinking about it. He lied to me.” She sniffed heartily. ” I’m over that, I guess. But I’d hoped for better from you, ‘Listii.”

He looked at her after flicking down the speed to a hover and switched on the autopilot. “Why expect better from me than him, Atyr? Val would never have hurt you like–“

“He lied!”

“No, he didn’t. He said he couldn’t. That wasn’t a lie. Having an ability doesn’t mean one can do something.” He resisted the urge to get up and comfort her. A silent prayer of thanks was in order for his office. Seldom did they adjust his levels so well. Normally he wouldn’t be able to resist the pheromone drive to her when she started crying.

Likely he’d have to have them cut him back when he reached Yiira. At least he would survive this trip moderately unscathed.

She was silent, watching him carefully out of the corner of her eye. “What’s gotten into you, ‘Listii?” she muttered more to her chair and hands than him.

“What do you mean?”

“You were never so distant before. I thought I could talk with you about anything. You always said I could. I thought we were friends.”

“We are, and you can.” He resumed the car’s acceleration.

“But you–“

Forcing himself to not snap at her, he still decided to cut off her insinuations before they grew more fanciful. “Just because I’m not over there coddling you, Atyr, don’t mean I care any less than before. I’m trying to fly the car and avoid a collision with those peaks over there.” He motioned toward the Estanes. “And I don’t need you damning my brother or myself for something we didn’t do wrong. Val never lied to you about his talent. He said he couldn’t do things. He couldn’t. Our father swore us to secrecy about it long before he met you. We could only use it with kin–bloodkin, Atyr. Father, our children, not even cousins. Our father’s father had done the same to him. Val and I did the same with our sons.” He sighed. “Why he sent to you is anyone’s guess, but he shouldn’t have. I’m sorry you are hurt, but Val never lied to you.”

She was staring at her fingernail again. It was bleeding. “And just when was I supposed to find out?”

“Never.”

She looked up to meet his gaze this time. “Never?”

“Never, Atyr.” He sighed. “Look, it’s done, for good or not. I’ll deal with it from here. Enjoy the knowledge you if you want now with him. Maybe Val was saying he accepted you fully as one of us. Congratulations, Atyr. You’re fully Hastor.”

She turned to the window. “Take me to Katsdaniis, ‘Listii. I think I need to be by myself for a while.”

Something about her tone made him cringe, a finality that said he’d handled this situation no better than he’d handled things with Riia during those last days.

All his levels set, every adjustment fine tuned…. It didn’t matter. He felt a burst of panic that broke through his caution. He reset the autopilot, tossing away the the thought that he shouldn’t rely on that sketchy programming job Kariin had done for him last month. If he’d cursed himself to an experience with her like he’d suffered after his wife’s death, it didn’t matter if all the damned machines worked right or threw them into the blasted sun. Then, disengaging his harness, he moved over to crouch next to her. Even with all the controls on him at maximum, this close he could feel the press of her, the quickening of his own body to hers.

Strange how easy it was to notice the chemistry between them when his own was being so carefully adjusted by the office. He added to his own personal barriers and reached over to touch her hands gently.

“Atyr, I’m sorry. I should have known better, but…. Well, it’s not something I’m used to talking about.”

She moved her hands away. “No doubt.”

He tried again. She squirmed from his touch. He sighed and undid her harness despite her attempts to stop him. When she was freed, he grasped her arms to her sides and drew her up to him. Then, because she held her head turned away from him, he blew her hair gently from her ear. Leaning in till his lips touched her earlobe, he began murmuring gentle reassurances, while he nipped softly at her flesh. Giving a small leash to his own talent, he teased her mind’s brittleness with ghostlike touches till she began to relax, soft coos of pleasure escaping her lips.

She turned to kiss him.

It was electric even with his controls in place. He loosened his mental checks just a touch more. He owed her that much.

Suddenly she froze again, the brittleness returning tenfold and pressed him back with a strength that her small frame belied.

He regained his balance just before he landed against the console. “What was that about?”

Her expression was stern. “What are you, Valistii Mirniia? Does sex solve everything for you?”

He blinked. “Who mentioned sex?”

“That wasn’t a fond brother to sister hug.”

“You seemed to be enjoying yourself enough, Atyr. If it works–“

He realized he’d misspoken again only second before her hand rose. He didn’t try to block the swing. Too little effort, too late, spent on the wrong thing. His vision spun as she contacted, the sharp burst of pain suggesting that he check his jaw later.

“You asshole.” She sat down and buckled herself in, crossing her legs defensively despite the venom in her tone. “Bring me to Katsdaniis before I have Alanii shoot this damned car out of the sky.”

This time he didn’t fight it. He took her to Katsdaniis.

Well, there you go…  I really love this particular scene.  What do you think?